Love in the time of cho…rona

19 March 2020

I am sure you recognise my adapted title of the famous novel by Gabriel García Márquez. It reflects for me what COVID19 has unfortunately turned our daily reality into, right across the world.

Really challenging times. We assumed we had seen a lot in the past decade with climate catastrophes, humanitarian emergencies and terrorism. But no, the fourth horseman of the apocalypse has joined the rest. Now, what thoughts can be shared in such sad and worrying times? At the moment, these few come to my mind.

COVID 19 is demonstrating the importance of relocalising as much as possible to the city level. Today we are globally so connected that whatever disaster happens in a big city in Asia or in Africa, it’s here with us very fast. We must reflect on striking a balance between globalisation and localisation. Because if this pandemic is global, its impacts are mainly showing locally, in urban areas, where the biggest part of the population lives. And we have seen that this is not the only phenomenon that is global, and can show the importance of either preventing it or tackling it by working on and with the city level.

Bigger efforts should therefore go into making cities resilient against future risks like this one, while working more strategically ON and WITH cities should get higher on the agenda of European (and world) political leaders.

Europe’s unity is at risk. Both in terms of free movement and political weight in helping to tackle such a crisis. National choices and strategies are dominating our capacity for joint action against this monster. Cities have shown the importance of cooperation as a fundamental value of the European project on other challenges. This is yet another time to learn from each other in dealing with it and tell national governments that if we stand united, we can win.

Borders are closed and people must stay safe in their homes if we want to win this war one day soon. Like many other organisations, EUROCITIES too has moved primarily online and continues its work and activities with a renewed approach and tools. It is not going to be immediately easy, but it is an important shift we must make also to respect those people that at the moment are taking so many risks in hospitals and in other jobs that expose them to the virus. And you know what? I get some comfort by thinking that our carbon footprint will go down and I will get to spend more time with my little one.

There will be a world after COVID19, and I know that by then we will be so grateful for our life and the good things it offers us.

Want to keep up with how different cities are responding to COVID-19 and what measures they are taking? Then take a look at EUROCITIES new blog: